Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong is set to take over as chairman of the Asean Standing Committee today, a position that will enable him to help make Asean member countries stronger economically as well as improve relations with China, Japan and South Korea, the minister said.
“The most important issue today is for Asean to sustain its relevance and dynamism…especially when it comes to strengthening Asean’s economic cooperation and competitiveness,” Hor Namhong said, addressing the Asean foreign ministers Tuesday in Brunei, according to a copy of his speech released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The second priority facing the new chairman and Asean is to “deepen cooperation” with the “plus-three” countries—China, Japan and South Korea, he said.
The Standing Committee chairmanship, previously held by Mohamed Bolkia, Brunei’s minister of foreign affairs, rotates alphabetically among the Asean’s foreign ministers. This is the first time Cambodia has held the chair.
Besides coordinating “all activities of Asean,” the chairman of the standing committee must chair all Asean-related meetings, Ministry of Foreign Affairs press director Chum Suonry said.
“This is a great honor for Hor Namhong and for Cambodia,” Chum Suonry said.
Hor Namhong is currently in Brunei for the annual Asean meeting. He is tentatively scheduled to return to Cambodia on Friday, an official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a news release stating Hor Namhong will sign an agreement in Brunei with East Timor Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Ramos-Horta to establish diplomatic relations with newly independent nation.
The ministry also stated Cambodia would sign the Asean-US declaration to combat terrorism in the region.
The US considers Southeast Asia one of the fronts for its war on terrorism in the aftermath of the Sept 11 attacks.
on New York and Washington on Sept 11.